Spring arrived this week and it wasn't exactly sunshine, butterflies and blossoms! Fluctuating temperatures, snow, freezing rain, wind - the crazy weather we've been experiencing created some challenges for Regina Cat Rescue volunteers and Regina's cats.
This winter has been a rough one for Regina Cat Rescue (RCR), as we’ve encountered several cases of feline panleukopenia, also known as distemper, for the first time in years. Distemper is a highly contagious and life-threatening viral disease in cats. While scary, distemper is largely preventable thanks to routine and effective vaccines. Unfortunately, RCR has recently seen a spike in cases of distemper in new rescues, resulting in the loss of lives, compromised foster homes, and expensive vet bills. This virus is currently occurring in Regina and surrounding area, so RCR is advising caution to people in contact with stray cats.
Yearly vaccination is the most effective way to prevent feline distemper. All kittens and cats that come into RCR’s care are vaccinated for FRCP, which includes feline rhinotracheitis, calici, and panleukopenia. Limiting a cat’s exposure to potential sources of the virus can also reduce their risk of contracting the disease. This is another reason to keep kittens and cats indoors or in an enclosed “catio” when outdoors.
Who’s at risk?
Feline distemper is highly contagious, and cats of any age can become infected. Most at risk are young kittens, sick cats and un-vaccinated cats. The majority of cats in RCR care who have succumbed to feline distemper this year have been kittens under the age of four months. Once feline distemper has been introduced into a home, other pets are at risk as the virus can live for months on a hard surface. This is why RCR will not place any un-vaccinated cats in a foster home that has come into contact with distemper for a minimum one-year period.
Signs of feline distemper are similar to those of other illnesses, like feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) and feline leukemia virus (FLV). Symptoms of distemper include depression, loss of appetite, high fever, lethargy, vomiting, severe diarrhea, nasal discharge and dehydration. Because these symptoms are sudden and severe, distemper is often fatal in kittens. Diagnosis can only be done by a vet and immediate support treatment, like fluids and antibiotics, is required at the onset to guarantee a chance at recovery.
If you take in a stray cat, it’s best to keep it quarantined before taking it to a vet – especially if you have other pets. Wash your hands and change your clothes before handling your own pets if you are caring for a rescued stray. Ensure the cat is examined by a veterinarian and vaccinated as soon as possible.
As always, please complete RCR’s intake request form if you are requesting assistance from RCR with a rescue.
We hope everyone enjoyed a peaceful holiday season. As we move into 2018, we wanted to take the opportunity to share a recap of 2017 – it was another busy year!
The Community Cat Team was kept hopping as they trapped, neutered and returned (TNR) 36 cats in 2017 – nearly double from 2016. They continued to manage 31 RCR colonies while also supporting 49 independently managed colonies. Volunteers also conducted outreach to Moose Jaw's cat rescue, SCRAPS, by providing a trapping demonstration and Q&A session about TNR. One of the challenges faced by the Community Cat Team was the difficult task of trapping sick or injured community cats to get them vet care.
In 2017, The Pet Rescue Team was tasked with limiting intake to 400 cats in an effort to prevent volunteer burnout and ensure financial stability – and they came very close finishing the year with 403 rescues. This measure was necessary after the record-breaking 473 rescues in 2016 that put extreme resource pressures on the organization. Adoptions for 2017 hit 433 – the highest in our history. And a record number of foster homes were active throughout the year with an average of 83 homes.
Besides the daily operations of the Community Cat, Pet Rescue, Fundraising and Communications teams, RCR also worked on new initiatives, policies and partnerships. Some of the highlights include:
- RCR began work on the Community Cat Coalition with the Regina Humane Society, the City of Regina and local veterinarians. Expect to hear more about the coalition and its work later this year.
- An adoption fee increase was implemented - the first since 2013. The increase was necessary to help offset just some of the costs associated with rescuing cats and kittens such as sterilization surgeries, vaccinations, anti-parasitic treatments and other veterinary care.
- We formalized our partnership with the Excalipurr Cat Café which opened in December and has already facilitated over 20 adoptions.
- RCR introduced a policy opposing declawing. As an animal rescue organization that sees firsthand the negative short- and long-term effects of declawing, RCR is proud to add its voice to the choir of those in opposition of the unnecessary amputation.
- The Fundraising Team developed important partnerships with local businesses most notably with Metro Pet Market to present the 2017 Winter Raffle and with Yoga Mala to host the city’s first cat yoga event.
We want to extend a warm and heartfelt thank you to everyone who supported RCR throughout 2017 whether that be by adopting, sponsoring, donating, educating or volunteering. We hope we can continue to count on your support in 2018!